“When a man carries a gun all the time, the respect he thinks he’s getting might really be fear. So I don’t carry a gun because I don’t want the people of Mayberry to fear a gun. I’d rather they respect me.” One of my favorite TV shows is The Andy Griffith Show. When I heard of Andy Griffith’s death on the eve of Independence Day, I was sad that one of the best icons of America’s finest qualities had passed away. The slow, easy manner of the citizens of Mayberry may be slightly unrealistic for us to return to now that technology has so advanced and our lives are busier, but the characteristics of the citizens and lifestyle of Mayberry embody everything America is about. The heart of America played out on television screens through The Andy Griffith Show.
The “sheriff without a gun” was Andy Taylor’s nickname throughout the series. He wanted the respect and friendship of those around him rather than their fear. Andy’s roles of father, nephew, friend, and sheriff kept him on his toes; but he always had time to teach his son about honesty and hard work or to get together with friends and a guitar to sing on the front porch. The compassion, friendliness, honesty, integrity, and responsibility that Mayberry encompassed seem to have gone out of style along with the television shows they were represented in; but we need to bring them back. Those qualities need to be displayed once again (and I wouldn’t mind having the shows brought back, too).
Times were different in Mayberry. The Andy Griffith Show represented small-town America at its finest. Even at sixteen, I would rather watch Andy Griffith than a huge majority of shows on television today; it’s good, clean, old-fashioned entertainment. I love to watch it and see what America was like in the ’60s, and at the same time see qualities like integrity and hard work displayed in a positive light. Compared with the inappropriateness and mockery that is played on television today, Andy Griffith wins every time; I watch re-runs of it all the time (yes, I’m even recording the whole weekend marathon tribute to Sheriff Taylor).
Andy Griffith was one of the best models of what America is. A man who wasn’t ashamed of being a man, who loved his family and friends, and who protected his town at all costs. Those are the qualities we need to reintroduce to our society, even if we can’t do it in a small-town setting like Mayberry. Andy Griffith will be greatly missed for the example he set for all of us. His legacy will leave a mark on anyone who sees his actions– even a sixteen year old.